Ole Miss is sitting at 5-5 heading into its Saturday afternoon face-off against No. 8 LSU in Death Valley, which means they need just one more victory to become bowl eligible. An upset of LSU would be shocking. The fact that Ole Miss went from a dismal 2-10 campaign a year ago to being on the verge of bowl eligible is beyond shocking. The job Hugh Freeze and his staff have done in less than one year in Oxford is as impressive a coaching performance as any around the country.
It should come to no surprise when you hear Freeze talk.
Referring to not being happy with six wins and bowl eligibility, Freeze stated this week, "It's something you wish wasn't talked about as much. It would be nice to have that out of the way, but we don't. There's still a lot to play for. You want it so badly for the fans, but also for the few seniors that we do have. You want the young ones to experience what that is like because we need the extra practices. We need that badly, to start building our program."
Coach Freeze and his staff are doing just that. Building a program. Not for the short term, but a long term, sustainable program. Building a sustainable program can’t be done overnight; but they are on their way.
The Rebels have a tough road ahead if they want to be bowl eligible this year with LSU, followed by a cross-state rival Mississippi State team that is sitting on seven wins.
LSU is hoping for the stars to align to get them back in the race to win the SEC West. They could potentially win the SEC Western Division. That’s a big “could”. LSU would have to finish in a three-way tie with Texas A&M and Alabama. That means Texas A&M would have to win its final SEC game against Missouri and Alabama would have to somehow forget to get on the bus to play Auburn in the Iron Bowl next week. It “could” happen.
LSU and Ole Miss officials have tried to spice up their annual game by creating the Magnolia Bowl Trophy. Surprisingly, they have done a pretty good job. The series sits at 2-2 since the addition of the trophy in 2008.
As for this year’s contest, Les Miles made some pretty profound statements this week, "We'll recognize that this is a team that has us marked on their calendar," Miles said. "We've certainly been involved in a number of very competitive games, and we recognize that there's a history between the two schools."
Thanks Les. That was brilliant. Running for public office any time soon?
LSU has won the last two meetings and fields one of the nation's most dominating defenses that also leads the SEC in pass defense.
Offensively, thanks to a late season emergence from QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU has become more balanced in its last two games. Mettenberger passed for 298 yards against Alabama and 273 yards against Mississippi State. Add that to an offense that has averaged more than 190 yards rushing per game and you have a dynamic offense to go along with a stingy defense.
Conclusion: It’s going to be a monumental task for Ole Miss to gain bowl eligibility against the LSU Tigers in Death Valley. But crazier things have happened. Like Ole Miss being on the verge of qualifying for a bowl.
LSU wins it in closer-than-the-experts-think style.
Where To Watch Online: LSU vs. Ole Miss